I can’t count the number of times I’ve been walking my dog only to have someone run up and pet her without asking. I would expect this from children, but adults should know better. I know that dogs are irresistibly cute and adorable, but not all of them are friendly.
There are several reasons as to why dogs to not enjoy being touched. The most prominent reason is that they were not handled properly when they were puppies, meaning that they were not socialized around people when they were young.
Dogs have a natural fight or flight instinct whenever they are near something they are unfamiliar with. This instinct serves to protect them from danger when they get older. If a puppy is socialized around other puppies, dogs, people, cats, birds or any number of things when it is young, it will learn that these things are safe (provided that the experience around such things did not cause any harm to the puppy). However, if a puppy is not around other people, animals or other things, it will believe that such things are unsafe as it grows older.
One of the first things you should teach your puppy (or new dog) is an easy command known as ‘touch’.
Touch is important because it allows your dog to get used to being touched and handled. Many people don’t think twice before petting a strange dog. But if the animal doesn’t like to be touched, and isn’t used to human contact, he may run away or even bite. From a dog’s point of view, it must be rather intimidating to have a giant human leaning over you to put their hands all over you. How creepy!
Training your dog to ‘touch’ is also important because it teaches your dog to follow your hand movements with or without a lure. This makes training basic obedience and other commands much easier, because your dog will have learned to follow your gestures.
Best of all, your dog will learn that a person’s hands are nothing to fear, provided that you take care to never allow yourself or others to use their hands to harm the dog. Hands should always be a positive thing, so that your dog is always willing to do as you ask, and never so scared that he bites someone simply for wanting to pet him.
Here is a simple tutorial by Emily Larlham of Kikopup to show you how to train your dog to touch.